Carlos Rodon OK, defense isn’t in left-hander’s season debut for White Sox
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BOSTON — Carlos Rodon gave the White Sox a nice outing in his 2018 season debut Saturday, allowing two earned runs in five innings.
The defense behind him wasn’t so nice.
Rodon is the good soldier and teammate, so he wouldn’t think of throwing shade at one of his infielders for throwing the ball away. But it’s safe to say he knows he would have gone six innings or more had he not been forced to face extra batters.
That said, Rodon came away with a more-than-satisfactory first outing in the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He struck out seven, walked two and gave up six hits, two of them home runs to J.D. Martinez (21st) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (third). Errors by shortstop Tim Anderson, second baseman Yoan Moncada and first baseman Jose Abreu contributed to two unearned runs.
“Yeah, you got to roll with it. It’s just the way it goes,’’ Rodon said. “As a starting pitcher or as a teammate, you have to pick up your teammates. Those things happen. Do the best you can to get out of it, get out of the inning or the -situation.’’
While the Sox should have concerns about a defense that has piled up 44 errors — second only to the Rangers in the American League — backing up their up-and-coming pitchers, they should be encouraged by how healthy Rodon has looked since spring training. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft has the stuff and mentality to be a top-of-the-rotation guy, his catcher Saturday said.
“He’s the guy you want, Game 7 of the World Series, on that mound,’’ Kevan Smith said. “He’s a guy who is going to give you everything he has, and the stuff he has with three pitches is amazing.’’
Making his first start since undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September, Rodon threw 63 of 97 pitches for strikes, relying heavily on his fastball, which touched 96 mph, while throwing 16 sliders and 14 changeups, according to Baseball Savant. He got 15 swings and misses.
“I felt good. I felt healthy. It was good to be back out there,’’ Rodon said. “I’m looking forward to the next one.’’
The Sox staked Rodon to a 2-0 lead against lefty David Price (7-4, 4.00 ERA) in the first on Abreu’s single that scored Anderson (leadoff single) and Smith’s RBI groundout. In the bottom of the inning, Anderson misplayed a ground ball to his backhand side, and Moncada threw away the finishing touch on a potential double play, allowing a run to score.
“We didn’t help ourselves,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “We just didn’t help him.’’
But Renteria liked what he saw on the mound.
“He looked free and easy,’’ he said. “I was really happy to see that. If we make a few more plays, I think he can go a little longer.’’
In the Red Sox’ fifth, Abreu fielded Xander Bogaerts’ grounder to his right and made an errant throw to Rodon covering first. Martinez then clubbed a homer to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead. Moncada and Abreu each have six errors, and Anderson has 11, tying him with Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers for the -major-league lead.
In the fourth, Rodon took matters into his own hands after giving up singles to open the inning. He struck out Blake Swihart, Bradley and Andrew Benintendi in order. He also struck out three in a row in the third.
“I thought his stuff was electric,’’ Smith said. “He has incredible stuff. You can see even when he misses his spots, he’s still getting swing and misses.
“Carlos has that killer eye in his look whenever he starts getting a little geeked up when he’s about to throw some stuff that is going to be unhittable.’’
Rodon was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list before the game. Chris Beck was designated for assignment.